The 7 Best Post-Workout Supplements For Faster Muscle Recovery

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Eating after a workout is essential for muscle repair and overall performance. Many foods and supplements claim to enhance muscle growth and aid recovery, but not all the products live up to the hype. “After a competition or workout, focus on getting carbs and protein into your body,” says Kate McGowan, MS, RDN, a sports dietitian and nutrition communications consultant.

McGowan explains that the body uses glycogen (a stored form of carbohydrates from the muscles) for energy. She says, “It is essential to add carb-containing food post-exercise to replenish muscle glycogen.” In addition, ingesting protein after a workout helps repair muscle breakdown that occurs during exercise and contributes to muscle protein synthesis.1 Post-workout electrolytes, such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium, may also be beneficial to replace minerals lost in sweat. Of these, sodium is the most important.1

Look for carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes (especially sodium) in a post-workout food or supplement, and if you’re choosing a supplement rather than a food, we recommend selecting one that’s third-party verified. We recommend choosing foods and supplements you enjoy the taste of—flavor was a top priority when we made our list.

Are Post-Workout Foods & Supplements Beneficial?

Eating something post-workout benefits those exercising for longer than 10 minutes. We recommend a food-first approach to post-workout recovery since many people can recover from exercise by simply eating a meal or snack within an hour of completing their workout. Foods like a smoothie, a turkey or peanut butter sandwich, or fruit and yogurt, along with plenty of water, are great post-exercise options.2

The convenience foods and supplements recommended in this article may at times be more appealing and convenient than fresh foods, especially for individuals exercising at higher intensities who need higher amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes.

Replenishing carbohydrates: Those engaging in moderate to vigorous aerobic or strength-based training use dietary carbohydrates and the body’s carbohydrate reserves (called glycogen) as the primary fuel source for exercise. As a result, restoring glycogen levels is one of the goals of post-exercise recovery.1

Replenishing protein: Consuming protein after exercise helps your body build muscle protein. This is especially important for strength-based exercises that put a large emphasis on muscle strength.1 Expert recommendations include combining carbohydrates and protein into a post-exercise meal to replace glycogen and aid muscle repair.1

Replenishing fluid and electrolytes: Lastly, most athletes finish exercise with a fluid deficit, and rehydration should include fluid and electrolytes to replace losses from sweat. The most important electrolyte to include is sodium.1

Who May Not Benefit from Post-Workout Foods & Supplements

Those who don’t need a post-workout food or supplement include:

Those exercising for short durations: You may not benefit from a post-workout food or supplement if your workout is short (60 minutes or less).

Those exercising at low intensities: You do not need a post-workout food or supplement if you are completing low-intensity exercise (for example, walking slowly, gentle pilates, or restorative yoga), as you likely did not diminish your glycogen stores or break down much muscle.

However, it is still important to eat regular meals and snacks, so if the exercise is gentle but lasts a long time, it may be time for a meal or snack afterward.

Make Sure Your Supplement Is Clinically Dosed & Proprietary Blend Free

When you’re looking for the best post workout supplement to purchase, there are a few important things to note.

To start, you’re going to find a ton of post workout supplements, simply named “POST”. It’s important to research these products and make sure they contain the ingredients you need to really optimize recovery. Most of the time, specific post products are similar to pre workouts, and contain proprietary blends, which don’t tell you the dose of each ingredient. It is vital to your recovery, that you get the full dose of the ingredients your body need, unless these products are just a waste of money.

To summarize, before you buy a post-workout supplement, make sure

  1. It’s proprietary blend free
  2. It’s clinically dosed
  3. It contains the ingredients proven to reduce muscle soreness and optimize recovery

Just because a professional athlete or influencer claims they use a product does not mean it works.

The 7 Best Post-Workout Supplements Actually Proven To Enhance Recovery


Aptly named, POST is Swolverine’s premier POST workout supplement. POST is a synergistic combination of proven sports nutrition and high quality superfoods.

POST combines complex carbohydrates from peas, papaya, pineapple, and pomegranate with fast absorbing pea protein isolate and electrolytes for maximal recovery, muscle growth, and hydration.

Studies show that a combination of protein and carbohydrates are needed for optimal muscle growth and recovery. POST also contains the best amino acid for recovery and less muscle soreness, L-Glutamine.

Post-Workout Benefits Of POST

  • Less Muscle Soreness
  • Reduces Muscle Mass Breakdown
  • Proven Formula To Build More Muscle
  • Made With 100% whole superfoods
  • Vegan, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Soy Free Formula

Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder has 32 grams of protein per serving, which may be beneficial for those who are strength training and looking to build muscle. It proudly displays the NSF Certified for Sport label, which ensures that the substance has been third-party tested for more than 270 substances that have been banned by most major athletic organizations. Made with whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate, Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder is an excellent source of calcium and vitamins A, C, and D.

Spano assures athletes, “This is among the best-tasting protein powders out there.” While it does include 21 grams of carbohydrates per serving, many athletes will need more. “Add carbohydrate on the side (or mix it in 100 percent juice), and you have your post-workout protein plus carbohydrate to build muscle and replace energy stores,” says Spano.

This protein powder does contain some sodium (135 milligrams), but if you are exercising at higher intensities, are a salty sweater, or are exercising in hot conditions, you might need more salt to replenish lost electrolytes.

The Skratch Labs Sport Recovery Drink is promoted for refueling, rehydrating, and rebuilding damaged muscles. With 35 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein, it is designed for those exercising at higher intensities and not necessarily for those exercising for a short period of time or at low intensities.

With a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio, it works to replenish glycogen stores and aid in muscle repair after a tough workout, especially an endurance training session like a long run or cycling workout. As a matter of fact, the main ingredients are cane sugar, cow’s milk, and cocoa powder, making this sports drink mix very similar to chocolate milk.

The main difference between Skratch Labs Sport Recovery Drink and chocolate milk is the addition of lactase, an enzyme that helps with the digestion of lactose. Because of that, those who are lactose intolerant may be able to tolerate this mix.

And since it’s made from milk, it also contains electrolytes that are necessary for hydration with 270 milligrams of sodium, 20 percent of the daily value of calcium, and 8 percent of the daily value of potassium. As an added bonus, it also contains 10 percent of the daily value of iron. Lastly, it tastes great—just add water, shake, and drink for a quick and simple recovery.

There are a ton of protein bars to choose from, but the RX Bar PLANT has a minimal plant-based ingredient list with zero added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Made with real peanuts, gluten-free oats, dates, and pea protein, this bar has 10 grams of protein and 25 grams of carbohydrates to help with muscle recovery. It also has 15 percent of the daily value of iron.

Whereas whey has long been considered the gold standard of protein sources, pea protein has been shown to produce similar desirable effects when the branched-chain amino acid levels are comparable.5 One study of fifteen men following an eight-week high-intensity training program found that whey and pea protein produce similar outcomes in measurements of body composition, muscle thickness, force production, and athletic performance.6

One important note is that these bars are low in sodium (50 mg per bar) which is great for those watching their sodium intakes but might not be enough to replenish sodium lost in sweat for those exercising at moderate or high intensities.

5. Citrulline Malate

Post-workout supplements are specifically used after your workout to help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness and speed up recovery time. But Citrulline Malate is an exception. Citrulline Malate is a natural Nitric Oxide [NO booster]. Nitric oxide widens your blood vessels, which improves blood flow, oxygen, and nutrient delivery to your muscles. Often times you’ll find L-Citrulline or Citrulline Malate as a main ingredient in pre-workout supplements. However, several studies have shown that Citrulline Malate enhances exercise performance and recovery.

Citrulline Malate has also been proven to stimulate muscle protein synthesis the muscle building process, as well as enhance the use of specific branched chain amino acids, to enhance post workout muscle recovery.

Post-Workout Benefits Of Citrulline Malate

  • Delayed Muscle Fatigue- Increases ATP Production
  • Improved NO – Better recovery, increased strength, delayed muscle fatigue
  • More Power- Increases phosphocreatine levels
  • Increased Strength- Facilitates Muscle Protein Synthesis
  • Optimized Recovery- Enhances Amino Acid Utilization

What’s The Proper Dose Of Citrulline Malate

Studies show that a dose of 5-6g pre-workout will provide the desired post-workout benefits.


Gains aren’t made in the gym; they’re made at home when you recover. Branched-chain amino acids have been shown to reduce muscle mass breakdown and initiate muscle protein synthesis in the muscle-rebuilding process. When you lift weights, you cause microtrauma to the muscle tissue. These micro tears or fissures can result in what’s called DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness. Studies show that supplementing with BCAAs pre and post-workout is extremely beneficial to repair muscle mass breakdown and optimizing your recovery [R].

Post-Workout Benefits Of BCAAs

  • Improved Muscle Recovery
  • Reduced Muscle Mass Breakdown
  • Rebuilding Lean Muscle Mass
  • Reduced Exercise-Induced Muscle Soreness
  • Delays Muscle Fatigue
  • Improves Body Composition

What’s The Proper Dose Of BCAAs

Studies show that a dose of 6-8g pre and post workout with a ratio of 2:1:1 will provide the desired post workout benefits.

7. Whey Protein Isolate

Protein plays a vital role in building and rebuilding muscle mass and strength, improving body composition, and optimizing recovery. Protein is rich in branched-chain amino acids BCAAs, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine which stimulate protein synthesis and proteolysis (muscle mass breakdown).

The essential branched chain amino acids, that you derive from protein post-workout provides the critical fuel you need to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and accelerate the recovery process [R]. Therefore, adding protein to your post-workout nutrition strategy is vital to fuel your goals.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that protein supplementation or ingestion post-workout has a beneficial effect on acute anaerobic power, strength, and recovery [R].

For the best results post-workout, opt for a liquid form of protein like Whey Protein Isolate. Whole foods digest slowly and if whole meals aren’t practical after your workout, then toss back a post-workout nutrition shake, to get the nutrients you need quickly and efficiently.

Post-Workout Benefits Of Whey Protein Isolate

  • Improved Muscle Recovery
  • Reduced Muscle Mass Breakdown
  • Rebuilding Lean Muscle Mass
  • Reduced Exercise-Induced Muscle Soreness
  • Delays Muscle Fatigue
  • Improves Body Composition

What’s The Proper Dose Of Whey Protein Isolate

Including protein into your post-workout nutrition strategy really depends on how much protein you ate during the day. The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for healthy individuals is 0.8 g/kg/day for an untrained conventional diet. However in physically active individuals that are optimizing training performance protein intake of at least 1.4–1.6 g/kg/day is recommended [R].


Implementing the right supplements into your post workout nutrition strategy is crucial for your exercise performance and training outcomes. Less muscle soreness, means you’ll be able to recover faster and get back to lifting heavy, running, and on track to your goals. Too much muscle soreness can be debilitating and counterproductive, causing pain, and exacerbated inflammation. With the right post workout nutrition, you can build more muscle mass, recover faster, and build the body you want.


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